George Washington Papers

To George Washington from Commodore Esek Hopkins, 22 May 1776

From Commodore Esek Hopkins

Providence May 22nd 1776

Sir

I sent the Providence last thursday with all the Soldiers which belong’d to your Army that could then be collected1—since I sent three by Capt. Williams and there is some Sick now here which shall send as soon as well—some few I believe is deserted or gone by Land.

The Cabot and Andrew Doria both Sail’d last Sunday Morning on a Cruise to the Eastward2—the Columbus hope to send soon—the others I am afraid cant get away for want of Men as the Men onboard the Fleet continue very Sickly it makes it difficult to get Men & want it3 for that Impediment the Sailors are mostly taken up in the several Armies & otherways so that it will be with great difficulty the Fleet here can be Mann’d—the two new ships are Launched & will be soon ready if men could be had.

I receiv’d Orders to send to Philadelphia a Number of Cannon which if comply’d with will give great Uneasiness in this part of the Country.4 I am with great Regard Your most humbe Servt

Esek Hopkins

LS, DLC:GW; LB, RHi: Hopkins Papers.

2The previous Sunday was 19 May.

3The letter-book copy reads “was it not.”

4The Continental Congress resolved on 7 May “that twenty of the heaviest cannon, taken by Commodore Hopkins, at New Providence, . . . be brought to the city of Philadelphia, and delivered to the committee of safety of Pensylvania, for the defence and protection of said city” (JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 4:333). In a letter to Hancock of this date, Hopkins says that he received Congress’s order three days earlier and promptly asked the Rhode Island council and some members of the general assembly for permission to deliver the required number of guns from the twenty-six cannon that he had brought to Newport some weeks earlier. When the council predictably refused that request, Hopkins gave the Pennsylvania committee of safety an order on Governor Trumbull of Connecticut for twenty of the thirty-four cannon that he had left at New London and Groton. “I hope he will deliver them,” Hopkins wrote Hancock, “as they may be better Spared from there than here, as the consequence of moving the Cannon from here would be the blocking up of the Fleet in this River, or such part of them as are now here” (Clark and Morgan, Naval Documents description begins William Bell Clark et al., eds. Naval Documents of the American Revolution. 11 vols. to date. Washington, D.C., 1964—. description ends , 5:199–200; see also Hopkins to Trumbull, 21 May 1776, ibid., 185). Trumbull, like the Rhode Island authorities, was reluctant to give up any of the cannon protecting his colony’s principal port, but under pressure from Congress, he eventually sent six guns with iron carriage wheels to Philadelphia (Trumbull to Hancock, 17 June, 13 July, Nathaniel Shaw, Jr., to Hancock, 31 July 1776, ibid., 587–89, 1056–57, 1304–5; JCC description begins Worthington Chauncey Ford et al., eds. Journals of the Continental Congress, 1774-1789. 34 vols. Washington, D.C., 1904–37. description ends , 4:406, 5:445–46). GW received none of the thirty cannon that he requested from Hopkins (see GW to Hopkins, 14 April 1776).

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